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Increasing participation in an apathetic electorate

by Lou Venditti- Copy Editor
Tue, Sep 19th 2017 07:00 pm
Photo from thedemocracycommitment.org
Though there are only presidential elections every four years and there are only Senate and House of Representatives seats up for election every two years, there are local seats up for election every year. National Voter Registration Day aims to raise awareness and encourage people to vote. Brockport will be hosting a National Voter Registration Day event on September 26.
Photo from thedemocracycommitment.org Though there are only presidential elections every four years and there are only Senate and House of Representatives seats up for election every two years, there are local seats up for election every year. National Voter Registration Day aims to raise awareness and encourage people to vote. Brockport will be hosting a National Voter Registration Day event on September 26.

The United States of America is built on the foundation of democracy; a voice for all people has been important since the country was founded. Even if the people have a voice, to use it they must register to vote. National Voter Registration Day, held on the fourth Tuesday of every September, is an event meant to encourage students and community members to register to vote. Registering to vote is a wholly simple process that life seems to interrupt for many people. 

“Every year, millions of Americans don’t claim their right to vote because they miss a deadline, move, change names or don’t know how to register in the first place,” a press release for National Voter Registration Day said. “With over a quarter of Americans not voting at all, National Voter Registration Day is an occasion for community institutions, voters and election leaders to build a more representative democracy.” 

The National Voter Registration Day organization is also looking for community support for the event. The Brockport chapter is seeking student volunteers for afternoon and evening shifts on Tuesday Sept. 26 in The Seymour College Union at the Square. The organization relies on volunteers to spread the word and to help get the community involved. 

Registering to vote early is particularly important in New York, where voter registration deadlines come earlier than they do in other states. The New York State primary elections are closed, which means voters cannot arrive, register and cast a vote the same day. Closed primaries also forbid members to vote for a party other than their own. For example, a Democrat couldn’t vote in the Republican primary in New York. Only 11 states have closed primaries, but New York is the only state where party membership must be declared at least six months prior to the election. 

The closed primary system and voting registration roadblocks have long been the ire of New York residents. The system saw itself most harshly scrutinized during the 2016 election, where many potential primary voters found themselves blocked from the polls due to early party affiliation deadlines. The deadline to change or join a political party for primary voting in New York was set months in advance of the primary, catching many potential voters by surprise. The difficulty spread even to Eric and Ivanka Trump, the children of President Donald Trump, who were unable to change their party affiliation from Democrat to Republican in time in order to vote for their father in the primary. 

However, 2017 is a down year for elections. There are no national seats up for election until the 2018 Presidential midterm elections. Even so, local government elections are plenty important. Local government affects everything that happens in a town, city or county from new sidewalks to parks. The importance of local government cannot be understated. 

The deadline in New York to register for local elections is November 7, however, absentee ballots must be filed earlier. An absentee ballot for a local general election must be postmarked by October 31, or in person by November 6. With that being said, it’s best to register to vote sooner rather than later, as it won’t be a hassle when it comes time to vote. 

Information about National Voter Registration Day can be found at nationalvoterregistrationday.org. To volunteer, contact Nikole Van Wie at nvanwie@brockport.edu. 

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